Prostitute book riles academic

21:39, Jul 31 2012

A transgender academic has lodged a formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission over an Auckland Council-produced book that she says portrays sex workers in a bad light.

Auckland University of Technology lecturer Lexie Matheson has formally complained to both the council and the commission about the book, released last month, which was intended to show the need for new prostitution laws.

The book focuses on south Auckland communities and in particular, Hunter's Corner in Papatoetoe and has personal accounts from business owners and residents in the area.

Auckland mayor Len Brown endorsed the pamphlet and said ''the time has come for legislative support to overcome a problem in the southern communities of Auckland that has been evolving and worsening for two decades; street prostitution''.

Matheson said the pamphlet breaches the rights of transgender people by calling sex workers male and transvestites.

''The misgendering of people who are sex workers out there, that they are all called him and that they are all transvestites, it's just full of discrepancies and inaccuracies,'' she said.

''Those are things that paint a picture of the transgendered community which is an inaccurate one. We are often portrayed stereotypically as sex workers and as people on the margins of society.

''My knowledge of transgendered people are like me - academics, lawyers, high achieving people.''

Matheson said the concern she has is that there was no consultation with sex workers or members of the gay community which paints a very biased picture.

''The brochure is made largely by middle-class, white, privileged heterosexual men and the pictures are all of - with the one exception - white, middle-class men complaining of mess and untidiness and all of the photographs are of brown sex workers,'' she said.

''When I visited Hunter's Corner there was a terrible mess in the area around the sports fields but it's not a mess made by half a dozen people, it's a mess that's there through most of the day.''

Matheson said she hoped the books containing offensive materials would be destroyed and a total redesign would be undertaken.

The complaint is understood to have been lodged with Councillor Cathy Casey, who could not be reached for comment last night.


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